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Anxiety Soothers

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by Sue Stevenson (subscribe)
I write essays, short stories and political commentary and believe the colour orange is unfairly discriminated against.
Published March 6th 2014
Helping your body to soothe itself
Anxiety - stress on steroids. When it's bad, you're climbing the walls and hovering on the top of the ceiling. Today, most of us are stressed, and more of us are anxious.

Anxiety crawls into your throat and puffs itself out like a fish, while at the same time it lumbers into your chest and your guts and hangs there like concrete.

head, 3D face, woman's head, Das Wortgewand
Public domain pic by Das Wortgewand

Funny how something that makes you feel so flighty, so zappy and unable to focus, so head-messed, feels so heavy in your body. The nature of anxiety means it feels like there's nothing you can do to alleviate it. But you can.

Following are two different 10-minute anxiety-soothing sessions to help you climb down from the ceiling and feel grounded and calm again. But before those, if you're feeling uber-anxious a round of alternate nostril breathing may help to settle you enough to be able to do the sessions. You simply breathe in through one nostril while covering the other one, and then breathe out though the other nostril while covering the first. You breathe in through that same nostril, and then breathe out through the other one, and continue. It's simple, but it's powerful. Here's an example:

The following link is a 10-minute guided meditation session by Tara Brach. Entitled Gateway to Presence, it's a Buddhist-themed way to help ground yourself and experience the expansiveness that lies underneath the anxiety space:

Gateway to Presence - Tara Brach

Here's another one that's good. It's a nine-minute, fluff-free meditation by Sam Harris, following the Vipassana method of cultivating mindfulness:

Sometimes, the worst thing about anxiety - and what makes it worse - is our scrabbling and scrambling to get away from it because it feels so bad. In this following video, the people from explore an invaluable way of noticing where you are feeling the anxiety in your body and allowing it to be there. Funnily enough, often when we practice this method it alleviates the anxiety attack itself.

This next one might take a little to get your head around because it seems a little strange to begin with. David Berceli has been helping people round the world suffering PTSD with the practise of a certain series of exercises that help your body to shake and tremble. It's weird, but it does work. The idea is that humans are supposed to shake and tremble after an experience that has caused their body some sort of shock. It could be something as simple as falling over, to something as traumatic as war combat or being a victim of assault. But we don't shake in this way unless under extreme stress, and when we do we try to minimise it. Consider how it feels when your body is shaking by itself. You try to hide it. It feels embarrassing and weak. But it's what our bodies are meant to do to shake off a traumatic experience and move on.

The set of simple exercises that evoke the tremors are easy to learn and to do, and the tremoring that happens afterwards feels a little strange at the start, but if you can go with it and trust that it is helping your body release the tension that it's carrying in the tissues of your psoas muscles, it becomes relaxing and very stress-releasing.

If you're interested in trying them yourself, they are available by digital download for 20 bucks from Namaste Publishing. Highly recommended for those whose bodies have run away with them.

Dealing with anxiety is hard and it's ongoing. I know, because I've struggled with it as part of the chronic illness I've suffered for the past 14 years. Treating anxiety is like a different kind of of exercise for your body, and it requires a massive amount of discipline to ignore the feelings that anxiety provokes enough to do something to calm those feelings down. But it is possible. It's just hard.

But the more techniques you have with which to learn how to help soothe your own body, the better. Knowing there is a way to calm yourself is an anxiety soother within itself.

Eneas de Troya, Waiting for the Quadrantids, boat, Miacatlan, Mexico
Waiting for the Quadrantids by Eneas de Troya under a creative commons attribution licence
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